Burj Khalifa is set to become the next icon, after Burj Al Arab, that will present Dubai's image to the world both as a tourism destination and a business hub.
The tallest building in the world has been tagged "a living brand" by The Brand Union, the consultancy commissioned by Emaar to develop the branding messages for the newly accomplished marvel.
Hermann Behrens, CEO Middle East, The Brand Union Dubai, said: "The launch is a very important stage in Dubai's development. Burj Khalifa has been under construction for five years now and during that period Dubai has succeeded in spinning a lot of messages around it as a visionary development.
"Now people are going to experience those messages, while Burj Khalifa transitions into a living destination that will become a part of the Dubai community."
Behrens said Burj Khalifa is the next big news in Dubai and a new chapter after Burj Al Arab. "We have been involved with Emaar in evolving Burj Khalifa from a building to an operational brand, a living wonder that goes beyond the ingenuity of construction to convey its image as a living entity, with its residential component, hotel, restaurants and its overview of the whole of Dubai."
In response to scepticism regarding the attraction of tourists during the global economic crisis, Behrens said: "It is true that Burj Khalifa is an exclusive property, but people can experience it in many different ways. Malaysia, which became known as the city with the two towers, did not only attract the exclusive high-end tourists who could stay at the Petronas towers.
"The towers were also a spectacle and people travelled there to see them. Similarly, people visiting Dubai can enjoy the restaurants surrounding it, the old town, Dubai Mall and many other destinations."
"It is definitely, a new branding tool for Dubai", said Jayesh Ravindranath, Head of Business at AIS Brandlab. "From a marketing perspective, the inauguration of the tallest building in the world is an additional selling proposition that shows the emirate has efficiently handled the effects of global economic crisis," said Ravindranath.
He added: "Burj Khalifa will mark a new development in the branding of the city, from the Burj Al Arab icon, and will serve as a powerful ambassador for the city branding."
From a marketing perspective, Burj Khalifa is expected to add to the attractions long featured by the emirate, mainly as a luxury, top-end and exclusive experience.
Dr Ian Michael, a Marketing Professor at the College of Business Sciences, Zayed University, said: "Burj Khalifa's opening will have a very positive impact on Brand Dubai. It immediately will be an icon in the city, in fact even before the official opening Burj Khalifa has been on a "must see" list for most foreign visitors to this city."
Dubai has branded itself as a business hub and a tourism destination, but has faced over-reacting international media reports since the beginning of the global economic crisis.
The international media, however, are set to monitor the Burj Khalifa inauguration, showing more optimistic views towards the emirate and its economic situation.
"All the newsprint that I have been reviewing in the last couple of days are carrying mostly positive stories about it. This is giving the city the much-needed publicity during these lean tourism times. It is bound to become a leading attraction in the region, and will definitely become a 'must see' attraction. After the negative news that Dubai received in early December, this will create the much needed 'hype' once again."
Michael added: "Personally I feel international response will be positive, one can expect amazement to the city. And to a great extent, Burj Khalifa can act in the short run as a tool to confront negative coverage."
Behrens said: "Burj Khalifa is now reinforcing the reasons that put Dubai at the pinnacle of the Arab World. It is sending positive signals that Dubai delivers what it promises. It is to say that the tower will be there forever, while recessions come and go.
"Yet, the Burj Khalifa brand is not the complete solution for Dubai's challenges, and the emirate still needs to look at its communications and marketing strategies and further develop them."
Behrens explained: "At this stage, Dubai has not engaged a branding consultancy but, in my opinion, it should be looking at one now.
"Many of the things that Dubai used to stand for are no more relevant to the rest of the world for many reasons including the economic crisis."
He added: "Just like all brands, the Dubai brand needs to evolve. No doubt, Dubai has to be proud of what it has become, but it now has a challenge to establish itself not as a visionary, top-aimed and exclusive location, but rather to be more sustainable and long-termed and down-to-earth while continuing to build on the things that made it special in the past".
The questions that need to bee asked, in the meantime, according to Behrens, are about what Dubai stands for and who want to visit Dubai.
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